Generations and Years of Experience

Many developer roles wind up influencing purchases when it comes to developer tools and platforms. Both age and years of experience as a programmer shape the lens through which developers perceive technical content. Unfortunately, sometimes we only have data for one or the other. So while generations refer to age (look here for the definitions of Boomers, Millennials, Gen Xers, and Gen Z, and why you should care), years of experience refer to how long someone has been working as a programmer. The two are often linked, but not always, and that is important to remember. However, most of the time, less experienced developers are also from the younger generations.

Generations, Experience, and Developer Psychographics

Newsletters

One example of how experience and age can affect your audience’s interaction with your technical content is their motivation for seeking it. Evans Data Corporation asked developers why they subscribe to industry or profession-related newsletters in their 2019 Developer Marketing Survey. While most developers seemed to subscribe to stay abreast of industry news, when broken down by years spent programming, this was most true for those new or mid to late-career developers.  However, millenials are more likely to subscribe to newsletters to solve a problem.

Why does this matter? Understanding your audience’s motivation for subscribing to a newsletter helps you understand what content and message they are most hoping to see and are most likely to interact with.

Blogs

Evans Data Corporation asked the same question again, wanting to find out why developers visit technical blogs. The most popular reason was for career development or reputation. However, when broken down by years of experience as a programmer, a shift occurs, with skills development increasing for the early Gen Z crowd. Similarly, many Gen X programmers say they visit blogs for skills development (though they’re not really interested in visiting for industry news).

Tutorials

When the same survey audience responded with their most likely reason for taking a tutorial, the majority said skills development. The next most likely reasons were about spread evenly among career development or reputation, staying abreast of news, and to solve a problem. Broken out by experience, those very new to programming were by far mainly motivated to take a tutorial for skills development. This interest drops rapidly with a few more years of experience. However, it picks up again as developers gain experience, with a  large fraction of those programmers with the experience that lines them up with GenX citing skills development as their motivation.

Generations, Experience, and Developer Behavior

Blogs

In the same survey, Evans Data Corporation asked respondents: “What type of development-related blogs do you visit most often?” The overall responses show development industry pundit blogs have an edge over news blogs. Code-oriented blogs are among the least popular overall. However, broken down by age, a different story emerges––  More developers in the GenX and Boomer generations gravitate to code-oriented blogs than from other generations.

Advice for the Ages

Part of the challenge of marketing to developers is needing to reach so many different roles which all have a hand in influencing purchases and adoption. This complexity also encompasses other demographics (like age and experience) that influence developer motivations and subsequent behavior when people look for technical content. Understanding what is similar and different across generations and experience levels can help you know when and what to offer your audience.